Healthy, Easy Vegan Holiday Recipes

Whether you eat a plant-based diet daily or participate in Meatless Monday every so often, there are many wonderful ways to incorporate vegan food into your holiday traditions, including Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, and other celebrations. 

We asked a few Holistic Holiday at Sea presenters for some of their favorite vegan holiday recipes, and they delivered! Here’s a roundup of delicious, easy vegan recipes to make for the holidays. 

Delicious Vegan Appetizers + Dinner Recipes

Butternut Squash Dairy-Free Cream Soup

Greens and Grains on the Deep Blue Sea Cookbook by Sandy Pukel and Mark Hanna features more than a hundred plant-based dishes. This sweet, golden-colored butternut squash soup will give you a healthy dose of beta-carotene and is the perfect way to start your holiday meal.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup plant-based milk
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Bring the butternut squash, water and salt to boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Reserving the cooking liquid, transfer the butternut squash with a slotted spoon to a blender or food processor. Add the plant-based milk and about 2 cups of the cooking liquid, and purée until smooth.
  3. Return the puréed ingredients to the pot, and add as much of the remaining cooking liquid as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Add the mirin and cayenne pepper. Reheat if necessary.
  4. Garnish with parsley before serving. If desired, add a sprinkle or two of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg.

Jordanian Roasted Crispy Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein. This easy recipe from the Master Plants Cookbook makes perfectly seasoned, crispy chickpeas that will disappear almost as soon as you put them out. In fact, you may want to double the recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (or a 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
  • ½ tablespoon organic garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon organic onion powder
  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 dash ground turmeric
  • Pinch of paprika

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for the chickpeas in a small bowl. Mix well.
  3. Place the chickpeas in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle some of the spice mixture over the chickpeas, reserving some to sprinkle over when turning the chickpeas. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the chickpeas are lightly browned.
  5. Shake the baking sheet gently to turn the chickpeas over. Sprinkle with the remaining spice mixture and continue baking for 15 minutes more.

CranPEARry Relish

Nothing adds sparkle to your Thanksgiving and Christmas vegan holiday table like cranberry sauce. This cranberry sauce—made with fresh cranberries—is one of Chef AJ’s favorite dishes to make during the holiday season.

Ingredients

  • 1 25-ounce jar of pears in their own juice, drained and roasted
  • 2 large navel oranges plus their zest (Chef’s note: Blood or Cara Cara oranges are good to use.)
  • 12 ounces of unsweetened fresh cranberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400­°F. Roast the pear halves until golden brown on a nonstick silicone baking mat. This will take about 35-45 minutes.
  2. Zest the oranges and then peel them.
  3. Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade and process until a uniform texture is reached. Do not liquefy.

Mushroom Gravy

This vegan gravy is a must-try with any holiday meal. Portobello mushrooms add hearty flavor for an irresistible mushroom gravy that pairs perfectly with all your main dishes, and veggie sides. Recipe from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Ingredients

  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups cremini, portobellos, or white button mushrooms
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme or oregano
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. whole-wheat pastry flour or whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup of water

Directions

  1. Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion until it turns brown.
  2. Add the mushrooms and continue sautéing these ingredients until the mushrooms brown and release some of their water. Reduce the heat to medium.
  3. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme or oregano, sautéing for another minute.
  4. Add the whole-wheat flour and gently stir the ingredients for about 1 minute.
  5. Slowly add the water, about ¼ cup at a time. Stir and make sure the flour incorporates with the water before adding the next batch. Continue doing this until you get a consistency that looks just slightly thinner than you want for the finished gravy. The gravy will thicken when it comes off the heat, so if you cook it to what looks like the right consistency, it will become thicker than desired once it’s off the burner.
  6. For a smooth gravy, add about 2 tablespoons more water and puree the gravy once it is done cooking.

Tasty Plant-Based Side Dishes

Many traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas ingredients are naturally vegan: green beans, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, cranberries, squash, and root vegetables. 

Matt Frazier, founder of No Meat Athlete, tells us, “For a vegan Thanksgiving, my favorite approach is to make a lot of side dishes, which I’ve always considered the most interesting part of Thanksgiving dinner anyway. With enough good side dishes, you don’t even need to worry about replacing the turkey. This also works well if you’ll be a guest at a non-vegan table: bring along a few sides, and you’ll know that even if there’s nothing else for you to eat, at least you can load up your plate with the dishes you brought, while also being able to contribute something to the meal.”

Tahini Green Beans

The No Meat Athlete Cookbook: Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes to Fuel Your Workouts and the Rest of Your Life (2017), written by Matt and longtime health coach, yoga teacher, and nutrition writer Stepfanie Romine, contains 150 whole food, vegan recipes. Here is one of them!

“This recipe quickly entered regular rotation for everyone who tested it; the tahini and sesame seeds make green beans incredibly enticing with very little effort. If you are a dipper, serve the sauce on the side and eat the green beans like fries. This technique also works with steamed or roasted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or beets.”

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (454 g) green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted black or white sesame seeds, optional

Directions

  1. Steam the beans in a medium saucepan fitted with a steamer insert (or by adding 1⁄4 cup/60 ml water to a covered saucepan) over medium-high heat. Drain, reserving the cooking water.
  2. Mix the tahini, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Use the reserved cooking water to thin the sauce as desired.
  3. Toss the green beans with the sauce and serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with the sesame seeds, if using.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Vegan mashed potatoes are an easy vegan side dish and a must for your vegan holiday feast! Top them with the mushroom gravy listed above for extra deliciousness. Recipe from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Ingredients

  • 8 medium red potatoes
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 10-12 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1-2 cups potato water
  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • Water or low-sodium vegetable broth for Sautéing
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cut potatoes into eighths (leave the skins on).
  2. Cover with water and boil over medium heat until soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Peel, crush and mince garlic cloves.
  4. Sauté garlic in a small pan with water or vegetable broth, until softened. Set aside.
  5. Drain cooked potatoes over a bowl to catch the potato water.
  6. Using a hand masher or an electric mixer, mash the potatoes. Add back one cup of the potato water and add the salt, pepper and sautéed garlic.
  7. Add more potato water and/or milk as needed to get a creamy consistency.
  8. Serve right away or keep warm in oven covered until ready to eat.

Gluten-Free Kale, Apple, and Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and high in protein; making it the perfect base for a vegan holiday side dish. Recipe from Forks Over Knives.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ¾-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 cups stemmed and chopped kale
  • 1½ cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 15×10-inch baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange squash in the prepared baking pan. Roast 20 to 25 minutes or until squash is tender, brushing lightly with water if squash starts to look dry. Cool slightly on a wire rack.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl toss together pumpkin seeds and ½ teaspoon water; sprinkle with cinnamon. Place pumpkin seeds in a small, shallow baking pan. Roast 5 minutes or until lightly toasted; cool.
  3. For dressing, remove 1 teaspoon zest and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from lemon. In a small bowl whisk together lemon zest and juice, maple syrup, and mustard.
  4. In a large bowl combine kale, quinoa, apple, green onions, and roasted squash. Add dressing; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with pumpkin seeds.

Main Dishes for Your Vegan Holiday Meal

Try these delicious dinner recipes to wow your guests. These vegan holiday recipes make the perfect main courses for your special holiday meal. Not only will they satisfy your tastebuds, but the vegan meatloaf packs a protein punch. The mushroom gravy recipe listed above complements both of these main dishes nicely as well, so be sure to make enough. 

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Wild rice stuffed acorn squash is a perfect vegan holiday main dish. Not only does it taste great, but you’ll get major points for the appealing presentation. Don’t worry, it’s easy! Recipe from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Ingredients

  • 12 small to medium acorn squashes
  • 2 cups long grain brown rice
  • ½ cup wild rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • 2 medium onions, diced small (~2½ cups)
  • 1 tsp dried sage or 1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
  • 2 tsp dried basil or 4 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • Pinch of dried or fresh thyme
  • Pinch of dried or fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup raw walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • ⅔ cup currants
  • 1 bunch parsley, minced (~1 cup)
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, diced small (~2 cups)
  • 2½ Tbsp wheat-free or regular tamari
  • 1½ Tbsp umeboshi plum vinegar

Directions

  1. Wash and cut the squash in half lengthwise, leaving the seeds in. Place squash on a glass baking dish or stainless baking pan, with the inside facing downward.
  2. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Place ¼ inch of water in the dish. Bake at 350 degrees F, until soft, approximately 1½ hours.
  3. Wash both types of rice separately. Then combine the rice, and add water and a large pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 45 to 50 minutes.
  4. Move rice to a large bowl.
  5. Sauté onions in water until translucent. Add sage, basil, thyme, rosemary and sauté another 3 minutes. Add this mixture to the cooked rice.
  6. Stir in toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted walnuts, currants, parsley and celery.
  7. Add tamari and vinegar.
  8. When the squash is soft, remove from the oven and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Place the squash back in the pan, with the inside facing up and fill with a rounded heap of the rice mixture.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes more.

Lynn’s Meatloaf

This is a great “meat” loaf recipe from one of Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Pilot study participants, Lynn Jocelyn. Lynn brought this to the Engine 2 pot-luck awards banquet and it disappeared before everyone could get a bite.

Ingredients

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 10 ounces firm tofu, drained
  • ¼ cup walnuts, finely ground
  • 1 ½ cups cooked brown lentils
  • 1 ¼ cups quick-cooking oats
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar-free ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon each thyme, sage and rosemary
  • Ketchup, to taste (for topping)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sauté celery, onion and garlic on high heat in skillet with a little water or low sodium vegetable broth for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Mash tofu in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in cooked mixture and remaining ingredients, combining well.
  5. Spoon mixture into a loaf pan. Top with a layer of ketchup. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Dessert

No-Bake Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding Pie

No holiday meal is complete without a vegan dessert! For this no-bake sweet potato chocolate pudding pie, the sweet potatoes provide the perfect base for a rich, sweet, and creamy chocolate dessert. Sweet potatoes also have a starchy sweetness that works well with chocolate. For a nut-free version, try it without a crust, maybe as a pudding, parfait or a popsicle.

Kim Campbell’s Helpful Hints

  • You can use a food processor instead of a blender for the filling, but you may not get quite as smooth of a consistency.
  • The chocolate chips are what make this pie firm up when refrigerated, so don’t even consider leaving them out!

(Kim Campbell is the author of The PlantPure Nation Cookbook and The PlantPure Kitchen.)

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 tablespoons applesauce or plant-based milk (for moistening)

Filling

  • 4 cups of cooked mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup pitted dates, soaked and drained
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup plant-based milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips (unsweetened or sweetened with natural sweetener), melted

Directions

  1. Place the oats, walnuts, dates, coconut flakes (if using), and cinnamon in a food processor and process until you achieve a grainy consistency. The mixture will feel slightly sticky at this point.
  2. Next, add the applesauce (or milk) one tablespoon at a time and continue to pulse a few more times. The mixture will combine further, becoming less grainy, and sticking together more. At this point you should be able to squeeze the dough with your fingers and mold it into any shape. If it feels too dry, add more applesauce or milk.
  3. Press the crust mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan or 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
  4. Place the sweet potatoes, soaked and drained dates, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla, and sea salt in a blender or food processor and blend on high until very smooth. If necessary, you can add a little more milk if you are having trouble blending the mixture. It may take a while, and you may need to periodically stop and start your blender or food processor to help it along with a spatula. The final product should be smooth and creamy.
  5. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave or on the stovetop for 1-2 minutes until fully melted. Add the melted chocolate chips to the blender and continue blending on high.
  6. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and smooth out the surface. You can also make fancy designs on the surface or garnish with your favorite fruits and toppings.
  7. Place the pie in the refrigerator and chill for 1 to 2 hours, until firm to the touch. Cut and serve to every chocolate fan in your life!

Pumpkin Pie Custard

Did you say pumpkin pie custard? This lip-smacking vegan pumpkin pie recipe from Dr. Michael Greger is a major crowd pleaser. And, because it’s a custard (no pie shell here), it whips up in record time. No judgement if you lick your bowl clean! 

Ingredients

  • 15 oz of pumpkin puree (BPA-free can or Tetra Pak)
  • 12-16 oz silken tofu
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup dates pitted
  • crushed pecans or walnuts as desired
  • Cashew Cream (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Combine the pumpkin puree, silken tofu, pumpkin pie spice, and dates into a blender and blend until smooth. Taste the mixture and adjust the pumpkin pie spice and dates to your liking.
  3. Pour the mixture into a baking dish or small ramekins. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top cracks.
  4. To make the cashew drizzle, combine the cashews and water in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  5. Once the custard is done, drizzle the cashew cream over the top and sprinkle with crushed walnuts or pecans. Enjoy with hot chocolate or vegan ice cream!